The Future of Trucking: Top Things You Should Know

Electric semi-truck charging

Electric trucks and autonomous driving systems have taken the industry by storm.

Although most of us are excited about the future of trucking, some could be concerned about losing jobs to automation and other trucking innovations. Well, lucky for you, today’s post explains why you may not have to be worried at all!

In addition, you’ll learn about all the latest news revolving around the latest trucking innovations.

So without further ado, let’s get started!

Jobs won’t be lost that easily.

Even though technology and change can be scary to some, there is no need to worry just yet. The need for pen-paper reports, telephone tracking, and manual scheduling won’t go away anytime soon.

For that reason, the human element is still very much required, as less economically developed countries are yet to enter the age of digitalization.

Furthermore, the bond between dispatchers and drivers is still a necessity due to how often trucks are targeted for hijack by nefarious individuals and so forth. But that’s not all, vehicle checking becomes paramount during unpleasant weather. Add to that, broken roads, bumpy driveways, and street chaos. It is hard to imagine autonomous systems being able to combat such conditions that can frequently be seen in rural areas.

And let’s not forget the heavy truck drivers who are responsible for loading and unloading vehicles. During the unloading process, truckers are also acting as customer service representatives. Although paperwork could be done systematically, most carriers still prefer to have a person in charge of the entire operation.

Trucker-dispatcher interaction

Autonomous trucking is more efficient than ever


Artificial intelligence and IoT (internet of things) have completely digitalized today’s semi-trucks. Gone are the days when truck drivers were forced to ruin their health during their long hours.

Popular long-haul trucker Tony Hughes has seen his fair share of troubles over the last 20 years of his career. Today, Tony doesn’t have to do anything but relax and let his self-driving truck do all the heavy lifting. As a result, over 20,000 lbs. of freight can be transported almost seamlessly.

In addition to a faster delivery time, these autonomous trucks are always traceable. For recipients, this is a major stress reliever, as in the olden days viable tracking methods were quite unsatisfactory, to say the least.

With the increased reliability, major trucking companies such as Daimler have seen much larger revenues per truck produced and consumers are much happier as well.

Another reason why self-driving semi-trucks are popular is that it takes away the need for dispatchers to calculate the safest/quickest routes.

These dispatchers are continually stressed as their drivers are regularly sent to multiple destinations throughout the day.

Thanks to the innovation of a Robo-dispatcher program, this daunting process has been made 100 times more efficient.

Autonomous truck example

Electric trucks are here to stay

Nobody expected humungous payloads to be transported via electric vehicles. Especially because their batteries were priced at over $1000 per kWh! But, thanks to the increased energy density of modernized cathodes, batteries now cost just under $100 per kWh in 2021.

Another reason for the dramatic price reduction is that EVs are constantly popping up around all parts of the world. As a result, the demand for these high-tech batteries is greater than ever.

Although electric trucks are yet to become the norm, South Korean electric trucks already hold an astounding 8% of the total market share in terms of trucks sold.

And, what you might find exciting is that an energy analyst from the BNEF has also weighed in their thoughts. According to James Frith, there is going to be at least a $100B market size when it comes to lithium-ion batteries.

Electric trucks used to be the distant future of trucking, well that future is now.

Considering the massive growth of electric driving innovators, you can rest assured that truck driving is going to see massive changes even in the next few years.

Electric truck example

Canadian trucks will soon no longer rely on internal combustion engines

Alberta-based innovators have begun project Alberta Zero Emissions Truck Electrification Collaboration or AZETEC for short. Their goal is to eliminate extreme reliance on internal combustion engines.

After this accomplishment, Canadian trucks would dramatically reduce their emissions and make further progress towards carbon neutrality.

These greenhouse gas emissions have become a growing concern over the last few years. And governments and scientists are continually encouraging countries to take steps towards a future containing an unharmed climate.

To combat these concerns, AZETEC has come up with a brilliant idea.

By replacing diesel with hydrogen, not only will companies save on costs, but they will also be able to contribute to a safer environment.

So the question is, where is this gargantuan amount of Hydrogen coming from?

To produce this hydrogen, a steam methane reforming process is going to be implemented with the help of Alberta natural gas.

Last but not least, through cascade refueling, cylinders can be filled in a much more effective way.

 

Alberta Zero Emissions Truck

Trucking job opportunities are rising dramatically

According to a study done by Redwood Logistics, 70% of all shipped goods are transported by trucks alone. This number is expected to increase significantly over the next 5 years.

However, the problem is that there is an insufficient amount of truckers who are ready to fulfill such high demand.

To make matters worse, most young people tend to stray away from the trucking industry as a whole.

Plus, the average age of a truck driver is 57 and that’s extremely close to retirement age.

Even heavyweights like Uber Freights have reported being understaffed. The reason is that truck drivers are only interested in a fixed income. And making income as an Uber driver is a rocky path, to say the least.

All these reasons present an extremely high amount of opportunity for truck driving enthusiasts to find a steady income from a legitimate trucking company.

And if that’s not enough motivation, a senior heavy truck driver usually makes around $70,000 a year.

Combining high demand with low supply can only mean one thing for the future of trucking: bigger paychecks.

But full-scale automation is still far away

Most heavy truck driving enthusiasts fear automation. But it is important to understand that a skilled semi-truck driver is still required in case things go south.

Self-driving semi-trucks may indeed be perfect on highways.

However, it is impossible to consider the concept completely safe in areas packed with citizens, traffic signals, roadblocks, and other common obstacles seen in an urban area.

Metropolitan areas present quite a challenge, but Google’s self-driving technology is already showing strong signs as a part of Waymo’s industry-leading innovation.

Besides the fact that automation is still very new to most trucking companies, there is a growing concern with the high costs required to shift away from traditional heavy truck driving.

Engineers, technologies, licensees, investors, and many other expenses are compulsory if trucking companies want a taste of the future.

Partially automated semi-truck

Walmart, Uber, Pepsi, UPS and other major companies have invested in autonomous trucks

 

UPS, Walmart, and Pepsi are just some of the big names invested in Tesla Semi.

Even the mightiest of the Big Four, Google, launched their own self-driving company.

As of today, Google’s Waymo is the industry leader in self-driving technology and has used its 10+ years of self-driving research to come up with Waymo Via – an autonomous trucking solution.

But what you should pay attention to is that Waymo recently received a $2.5 billion fund that almost guarantees Waymo Driver to become a level 4 autonomous system.

This means that the Waymo Via will soon be clear to drive in predetermined areas without human supervision.

Alongside Google, Uber’s startup company Otto was reported to have produced the first self-driving truck to successfully complete a shipment.

The vehicle was an autonomous Volvo 18-wheeler supplemented by Otto’s high-tech cameras, sensors, radars, and lidars.

And, don’t think it was just an ordinary trip!

Without any human supervision, the truck had driven 100 miles from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs. Wow!

Platooning might be safer than you think

Platooning refers to the idea of linking a group of trucks together and having one driver control them all.

In this way, the leading truck is able to control the movement of the ones following it.

Automated driving technology enables a single driver to control two or more vehicles at the same time.

Furthermore, Peloton Technology has developed PlatoonPro, a platooning system that is already in use by six of its clients. Peloton has proven that its system has successfully reduced fuel costs by 7%.

More surprising is the fact that PlatoonPro can effectively double the amount of freight that a trucker is able to carry.

What makes platooning safer for drivers is that the lead vehicles need less than half the time required by a human to hit the brakes.

Combining self-driving technology and a qualified driver, platooning can save massive amounts of time by carrying ridiculous amounts of weight all in one trip.

Platooning trucks

Blockchain can become the de-facto method of communication between truckers

 

In basic terms, blockchain is just an online network where transactions can take place securely, quickly, and inexpensively. In addition, you can create your own wallet and hold assets that could be used in payments.

Blockchain technology comes from cryptographic specialists wishing to create a communication network that is completely untraceable.

“How is this of any use to the trucking industry?”

Well, as of now, shippers work on their own and use vehicles available to them. But what if shippers had a network where they could find all available carriers ready to be employed?

If shippers and truck drivers could find one another and make transactions based on shipping schedules, there would be a lot less headache for both parties.

By using networks available on the blockchain, paperwork and payments could be done in just a few seconds without any hassle.

Instead of physically meeting one another to sign a bunch of papers, everything can be done online on a contract-based platform.

Hopefully, you are now brimming with excitement after reading our post about the future of trucking and all its possibilities.

Now it’s your turn to give us your thoughts:

                • Which of these trucks did you like the best?
                • Was it the Waymo Via because of its high-spec technology?
                • Was it the idea of platooning to save resources?

Either way, do let us know what you think. Share this blog along with your thoughts of what the future of trucking may look like!

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